IntroductionIf I have an addiction, it is probably to westerns and movies about horses. Years ago I was watching a movie on television. I believe it was part of a series called "How the West Was Won". As I recall, the episode began with a cowboy being knocked off his horse by a tree limb in a wooded area. A widow and her young son, walking in the woods, found the man and managed to get him back to their cabin where the woman began to care for him.
For me, the most interesting part of the movie was the young boy, who seemed to have a learning disability and was very carefully protected by his mother. Evidently some time before this episode occurred, the boy found a knife, which he knew his mother would take from him, so he hid it. At night, he would crawl out a window, go out into the woods, find a piece of wood and begin to whittle. Over time, he must have developed his special gift.
Toward the end of the story the cowboy had recovered and was ready to go on his way. The young boy had grown to like the cowboy and wanted to give him a parting gift. He went out into the woods, picked one of his carvings and wrapped it in a towel, hoping to make it a surprise for the cowboy when he arrived home. The man unwrapped it before leaving and, to his amazement, saw a carving of two horses standing on their back legs, on a pedestal, carved out of one piece of wood.
When his mother saw it, she asked the boy, "Where did you get that? Did you steal it?
The boy replied, "No, I whittled it."
Unable to immediately recognize the boy's special gift, the mother responded, "You couldn't do that, you're not allowed to have a knife." He replied, "I found one and I hid it so you wouldn't take it away from me." In amazement of what he had done she asked, "Well, how did you do that?" The boy replied, "It's easy. You go out into the woods and find a piece of wood with two horses in it. Then you whittle away at it until the horses come out."
After hearing that, the story stopped for me. In my heart, I heard the Lord profoundly speak to me. He said, "That is what I did for you. When you were baptized, I put the image of my Son in you. Then, down through the years, I have whittled away at all the excesses in your life to let the image of my Son come out."
How could I have missed that gift in my life for so long?
Even though it was late in the evening, I sat down and immediately wrote down my thoughts so I wouldn't forget. But, the image was so embedded in my mind that I have told that story to many people over the years getting the same reaction from all of them. WOW!
As I Pondered that story in the light of this book, it occurred to me that there might be another parallel to it. Just like many of us, even Saint Paul didn't immediately recognize the gift of God in his life. He was focused on what 'he' thought he should be doing. Since he was a devout Jew, he thought he should fight against the message those Christians were spreading throughout the known world. So, just like with all of us, God had to get his attention. Jesus knocked him to the ground with a blinding flash of light, then spoke to him about the real job he was to be doing and how he was to proceed.
For some of us, it may take just a tap on the shoulder, for others, like me, God may decide to use something like a 2x4 with a little more impact.
I can remember lying in my hospital bed at Hershey Medical Center recuperating from my third brain tumor operation in ten years and asking God why I had to keep going through this. In my heart I heard Him ask me, "Do I have your attention yet?" Of course, I said, "YES" thinking I knew what He was asking me. When I had another tumor, two years later, I realized that I must have a short attention span or else I just wasn't listening well enough.
God may not be as obvious for us as he was for Saint Paul, but, we have to realize that God will speak to us when, where and how He wishes, if we allow Him to get our attention. Therefore, we need to keep our eyes open to the events in our life through which He speaks and our ears open to listen for His voice.
Most importantly is that we recognize that God has a plan for each of us. He doesn't give us all the details and He doesn't tell us when we will reach our goal. He does give us one moment at a time to live to the best of our ability.
I have often said that if God told us at the beginning of each day what He had in store for us, many of us would either have a panic attack or just stay in bed. It's also said that God only gives us one moment at a time because He knows that's all we can handle. This moment is a gift of God's merciful love and how we handle His gift, as He gives it to us, can change our lives.
Through the first 41 years of my life, I experienced opportunities and trials as well as the comfort of a wonderful family and a really good education. During the first 20 years of my working life, I tried a number of jobs and career opportunities, one of which even placed me in the position of trying to help others to be goal directed and self-motivated in their lives.
Then in the fall of 1981, something caused me to look deeper into the attitudes I had developed and the results of my efforts. I wasn't knocked off my horse, but I was involved in a head-on collision in my car.
What happened from then on, which I will explain in more detail in the first chapter of my book, brought me to the discovery of the phrase which you see as the title of this work. In this book I hope to explain the meaning of that phrase and why you have to learn to live it backwards, even though you read it forward. I pray it will help you to learn to live each moment of your life with complete TRUST in GOD'S LOVE.
My prayer for each person who reads this book is that you will respond to the grace of each moment in your life as you receive it.
Although the book is not in print yet, I hope you will look forward to reading the rest of the story.
© 2004-2017 Gene P. Neral